Almost everywhere you look for business advice these days you will find people telling you that you need to demonstrate you are an expert. However, new research suggests that it is better to focus on being more accurate on your website, with expertise being much less important to credibility.
The study looked at diet websites. It found that only people with a little amount of knowledge on a diet topic valued apparent expertise over the accuracy of information. The researchers found that regarding website credibility, it was the accuracy of information that was more important than obvious expertise. Also, when people knew even a little about the topic, it was this that determined whether the site was deemed expert.
What this study implies is that whatever we publish on the Internet, our readers and viewers are subconsciously testing us. If the information we provide is correct and accurate, then regardless of our expertise our website gains more credibility. However, if we focus on promoting ourselves as experts, at the expense of always being accurate, our website credibility can go down. The only people who will not be affected by the lack of accuracy are those who know nothing about the topic of your website. And unless you are aiming at complete novices in your field, then this is an issue.
How to be more accurate on your website
To focus on being more accurate on your website, you need to prioritise accuracy over demonstrating expertise. People will believe you more if you are accurate.
So, here are steps to take to ensure that your website is accurate.
Read information carefully. Avoid skim reading. Instead, make sure you read the source information thoroughly, making notes if necessary. Do not just quickly look at something else online and think “that will be good to use”.
Check the information source. What is the credibility and trustworthiness of the source itself? If it is from a refereed journal, the reliability of the information is likely to be high. Similarly, if it is from a professional media organisation, it will have already been “fact checked” before publication. But if your source of material is from an unknown blogger, perhaps you need to think more carefully and investigate further.
Triangulate your information. If one person says something, it might or might not be true. However, if several different sources are saying the same thing, then the information is likely to be more reliable. If you have a “lead” for something to write about on your website, check to see if other people are saying the same things.
Review what you have written. Once you have written your material check things within it. Make sure any facts mentioned are accurate, checking with reliable sources. Make sure that all links work too. Don’t just write something, spell check it and then assume it is all OK. If possible, get someone else to check your content before it is published.
Making sure what you have written is accurate sounds obvious to do. However, many websites appear to focus on showing they are experts in their field and in doing so can neglect accuracy. You will be trusted as an expert more if you focus less on that and more on the accuracy of your content.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+